Things I've learned about being a parent, that my parents actually told me when I was a kid...

There's nothing so annoying as the smug look on someone's face when they get to say "I told you so!". Especially when it's coming from your parents. While I didn't have the "ideal" childhood, it was far from bad. I'm actually thankful for the way I was raised, because it made me very independent and aware of how the world actually is. (Seriously, thank you Mom, Dale, Dad and Jeri)

As a kid, you tend to think to yourself, "I'm never going to raise my kids like this!" or "I'm going to be friends with my kids, because I'll understand them, and not just treat them like immature little shits." We've all felt this way, that we can do better than our parents, who just weren't cool enough to understand us. But, as I enter the serious side of my adulthood, I find myself more and more tending to act just like them. And I also understand why. Children are endearing, annoying, sweet, needy, whiny and thoughtful bundles of pure, sugared energy. And in everything involving the child in my life (who we will refer to as Monkey from now on), I think back to how my parents acted, how they handled similar situations, and I'm struck by the horror of it... They were right. I do understand now that I have a child around. Even as I apologize to them for all the hell I now know I put them through, I imagine the smug expression behind their eyes... Damnit!

And now to the point of this blog. I'm going to attempt to chronicle everything I experience/learn from being a parent. I do this for several reasons; One, being able to get feed back from other parents, secondly, to share those special moments of life with a child, and most importantly, to have a god damn record of all the crap that (Monkey), and whatever fuck trophies that happen to spawn from my loins, have put me (us) through. That way, when they're old enough to be at this stage in life*, I'll print this out and hand it to them, laughing my senile old head off, and walk away.

* This is assuming that humanity has survived the coming zombie apocalypse. Face it, most of you won't, and I'm glad for that.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kids are like wine...


Last Sunday, we dropped Monkey off to her Dads for three weeks.  This is the first time she's spent that long over there, and the longest period of time that her and Krista have been apart.  I imagine it'll be a little rough for both of them.  It doesn't bother me too much, because I grew up with this kind of arrangement, and I imagine that while my parents missed me at some point, they were glad for the break.

Anyways, the night before we dropped her off, they had a shin-dig down at Fairy Tale Town.  Fairy Tale Town (since I know you're all like, "WTF is FFT?") is a park inside a park in Sacramento, with slides and little jungle-gym set ups, all themed around different fairy-tales and Mother Goose stories.  It's actually pretty cool, well maintained, inexpensive, and you can let the kid(s) run around until they're completely drained of energy.  It is, to put in simply, fucking awesome.

So, the shin-dig.  It was called the "Mid-summers Night Dream" festival, and it was in the evening.  Fred and Brat went with us (Nancy was in Georgia), and we had a blast.  All you can eat ice cream, Wicked 'Wich sandwiches (Out-fucking-standing), a beer booth, crafts booths, and a Celtic rock band called Tempest. We walked around, ate ice cream, and listened to a truly enjoyable band.  There were people dressed up as fairies and other Renn-Faire type costumes, and the whole thing was great.

But the icing on the cake was Brat.  For whatever reason, Brat (12) has a genuine affection for Monkey (4), and of course Monkey adores Brat.  We try not to take advantage of pawning off Monkey onto Brat, and even kick her down some cash for baby-sitting.  She swears she doesn't mind it, but I am extremely grateful that she's even remotely willing to spend time with someone who is a third her age.  Definitely made our night easier.

So, after it was over, we went home. We attempted to put Monkey to bed (it was 10:30 when we got home), who suddenly had an upset stomach, which resulted in a fair bit of crying and complaining, followed by a massive shit.  And she slept happily ever-after.

But, back to the title...

Kids are like wine.  They have the potential to get better with age, but the can also turn to shit. Maybe it's all about how you handle them?

Shit, Odin! Ssshhhiiitttt....

There's few things more embarrassing than when you, as an adult, watch old family videos, and realize how absolutely retarded you were.  God knows I've had my moments (and systematically tried to destroy all evidence). But as a parent, these little nuggets are endearing memories, meant to be cherished and saved for future ammunition.

So, shortly after I got back, I got Odin back from the Devil Woman.  Odin is a (still) slightly hyperactive black Lab, and I love that dumb-ass.  He listens to me very well, Krista for the most part, and pretty much ignores Monkey.  He's never had to listen to a kid before (and maybe her voice is too high?), so he pretty much ignores her.  But, god damn, that doesn't stop her from trying.

Monkey- "Odin. Odin! ODIN! Shit! Shit, Odin! Sshhiitt... ssshhhiiittt...."

The whole time, he keeps walking around, or looking at me, with a confused look that seems to say, "What the fuck? Is that a self-squeaking toy? It's giving me a headache."

Lately, with the judicious use of treats and ice cubes, he's starting to realize that she's a mini-master of sorts, and that he should at least acknowledge her every now and then. But only if toys or treats are involved.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorable Memorial Day...

Today started like any other day that we don't have to go to work, with Monkey waking me up around 7 am. Today, I decided to make the morning special, so while the girls slept, I went a picked up donuts.  Monkey and I watched cartoons while Krista slept, and i felt the day had started off exceedingly well.  It wasn't meant to last.

We had a few errands to run this morning, and it only took Monkey about half an hour to thoroughly annoy the hell out of Krista and I.  I mean she was flashing from over-abundantly energetic to pouting and back to the point where I was ready to either feed her benadryl or Red Bull, and see which made her crash first.

Our first errand was picking up food for the (other) animals, which wasn't too bad.  She wanted to look at all the little animals, and generally was a split second from dashing off.  But then we went to Mattress Discounters.  I've been saying for a while that I wanted a Tempur-pedic mattress, and we decide that Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to get one.

Good. Fucking God.

That kid was fucking going crazy!  The dude who was helping us was trying to play it off, but I'm sure having a 4 year-old leaping from bed to bed was driving him nuts.  I think his commission was fueling his patience.  We decided to have lunch next door at a diner, and the 40 foot walk there was enough to make me want to pull my hair out.  She was running around, demanding things, being loud... And my patience was frayed.  It didn't help that I was starving and shaky.

So, after a harrowing lunch, we walked back over to the mattress store, paid for our bed (delivered in the next two days, damnit) we proceeded to the grocery store. At this point, both Krista and I are on our last nerve, and Monkey is borderline meltdown.  So, we get to the store, and Krista tells Monkey, "I'm going to the bathroom.  If you need to go, tell me now. Otherwise, you're going to have to wait until we get home."

"I don't need to go."

So, Krista heads off to the restroom, and not five god damn minutes later, as I'm pushing the cart with Monkey in it (which she almost threw a fit about) , she says, "I have to go pee."

"You know what? Too damn bad.  Your momma told you that if you didn't go then, you have to wait. And now, you have to wait."

We finally get home, and both Monkey and Krista lay down for naps.  Thank Christ.  I got the chance to read a little, fold laundry, etc.  It was a pleasant couple of hours.  Then they wake up.  Krista and I are cleaning the house, and the kid is running around, shrilling demanding for things like attention and food and whatnot.  Driving me nuts.  And then out of nowhere, she asks for me to take the training wheels off her bike.  No clue as to why that came into her head.  And she kept asking, and asking, and asking.  Finally, I was like, "Fuck it, Why not?" I really didn't feel like having to bandage her up after she inevitably ate shit, but she seemed to really want to try.  And she did it! There were a few false starts, a couple of tumbles (I almost ate shit too), but she totally was riding her bike, no training wheels.  She still needs to practice things like turning and braking, but she's doing it.

So, to make a short story really long, she spent the day annoying the hell out of me, and she rode her bike with no training wheels.  A long, exhausting, memorable day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bribery, my new best friend...

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "You can't buy love."? I call bullshit on that.  Kids love to get new toys, and to that affect, I've discovered the the almighty power of bribery.  The thing is, I can remember specific points in my life where my parents bought me toys, for no apparent reason. I remember when Dale stopped off at Toys'r'us, made us wait in the car, and came back out with a Sylvester the Cat hand puppet for me. Thinking about it now, I'm like "What the hell kinda toy is that?" But I remember being ecstatic about getting it from him, and feeling loved.  I remember when they bought me the Thundercats playset, with the sword and the claw glove and everything.  The point is, I remember that shit. I'm thirty years old, and I still remember.  It makes a difference.

When I first got back, I was staying with Krista and Monkey at their apartment, which was a one bedroom.  So we all slept in the same room.  After we moved into the place we had now, Monkey got her own room.  Now, this isn't the first time she's had her own room, but it had been awhile since she slept by herself.  For the first few nights, she would not stay in her goddamn room.  She would keep coming into ours, trying to sneak into bed with us.  While endearing, it got to be really annoying to be woken up repeatedly throughout the night. Drastic measures were needed.  I suggested benadryl and/or strapping her to the bed, but Krista had something much more devious in mind.

Bribery.

I was skeptical, even knowing the power of a promised new toy, but she's had more practice at this than me, so I went with it.  We were planning on going to Disneyland for the first time in Monkey's life, so Krista made her this deal:

If Monkey slept in her own bed, all night long, for a week, she could pick out any toy she wanted from Disneyland.

First, those of you who haven't made it to Disneyland, let me say this;  The shit there is fucking expensive. And by expensive, I mean a $6 hot chocolate, a $4 bag of popcorn, and an $80 toy.  Plus, we were spending three days at the park.  I didn't really mind, I had the money to spend, and it was totally (exhausting) worth it.

Back to the point at hand.  After the deal was made, I had an uninterrupted week of sleep before going to Disneyland.  I was astounded.  It fucking worked! Hello Bribery! And for the most part, she has no problems sleeping by herself now.

Now, we're in a little regression on Monkey's progress in not peeing the bed.  So, she and I struck a deal.  I had purchased a Disney Princess game for my DS, so she'd have something to do on long car trips.  That kids loves her some video games.  So, the new deal is, no bed wetting for a week (with or without the night time pampers), and she'll get a new game. If this works (again), I'll have a whole new outlook on the virtue of bribery.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Insta-Dad

So, for those of you who know me, you know that my life is significantly different than it was a few years ago.  I've been married, bought a house, separated, deployed (again), divorced, and I am now in the final stages of short-selling my house. And all before I was thirty. Not bad, eh?

It's no where near as bad as it sounds. I've developed a serious relationship with an absolutely wonderful woman, and her beautiful daughter, Monkey.  And that brings us to the reason of this blog.  Stepping into the role of Insta-Dad, I've discovered a new-found respect for what my step-dad did, getting involved with a woman with two kids.  There is a seriously steep learning curve, and I'm beginning to realize why I pissed my parents off so much, and what I might have  inadvertently done to keep them from dropping me off at the nearest freeway, somewhere around the third lane. So, onto my first topic...

"I'm just..." 

Ah, goddamnit!

You're just doing everything except what I just told you to do. Maybe I have a better idea of what my parents went through because we were all military, and the "I'm just..." feel like nothing more than insubordination. And that's un-goddamn-acceptable. This is totally uncharted ground for me, and I really have to get a death grip on my patience when I have to tell Monkey four or five times to do anything.

And then she does something like this, which utterly melts my stern countenance, and makes me realize that I might just be utterly powerless in this family setting.

I just had my last drill a couple of weeks ago, and when I went to wake the Monkey I was in my uniform.  Her mother and I have been seeing each other since shortly before I got deployed this last time.  I saw the Monkey about every other day via Skype.  Anyways, when she saw me in my uniform, her voice got real small, and she asked "Are you leaving again?".

It brought back memories on when Dale would always have to leave, and I think I knew how he felt then.  So I patiently told her that I was only going to be gone for a couple of days, and after that, I wouldn't be leaving for Army things ever again.  The simple fact that that made her smile, makes me feel like I might be doing something right.